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Leblanc Marine, L.L.C. v. State, Division of Administration, Office of Facility Planning and Control

Supreme Court of Louisiana

October 22, 2019

LEBLANC MARINE, L.L.C.
v.
STATE OF LOUISIANA, DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATION, OFFICE OF FACILITY PLANNING AND CONTROL

          ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEAL, FIRST CIRCUIT, PARISH OF E. BATON ROUGE

          PER CURIAM [*]

         In this case, we are called upon to decide whether a public entity's bid advertisement can impose more restrictive requirements than those requirements set forth in the Louisiana Public Bid Law, La. R.S. 38:2212, et seq. For the reasons that follow, we conclude a public entity may not deviate from the statutory requirements.

         UNDERLYING FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This dispute arises out of a project known as Phase III Levee Repairs at Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge located in Grand Chenier, Louisiana ("the Project").

         In May 2017, the State of Louisiana, through the Division of Administration, Office of Facility Planning and Control ("State") issued an advertisement for bids for the Project. Section 5.1.9 of the State's instructions to bidders provided:

         Section 5.1.9

         The authority of the signature of the person submitting the bid shall be deemed sufficient and acceptable under any of the following conditions:

(a) A corporate resolution or a copy of the detailed record from the Secretary of State's business filing page submitted with the bid package as required by La. R.S. § 38:2212(B)(5); or
(b) An affidavit, resolution or other acknowledged or authentic document indicating the names of all parties authorized to submit bids for public contracts. A bid package submitted by such a legal entity shall include a current Power of Attorney certifying agent's authority to bind Bidder, as required by La. R.S. § 38:2212(B)(5).

         Notably, Section 5.1.9 of the bidding instructions were more restrictive than the statutory provisions for establishing a person's authority to bid under La. R.S. 38:2212(B)(5).

         The statute provides for a total of three methods for establishing a person's authority, while the bidding instructions were limited to two methods. Following the close of bidding, LeBlanc Marine, L.L.C. ("LeBlanc") was the apparent low bidder on the Project, and Southern Delta Construction, L.L.C. ("Southern Delta") was the apparent second low bidder. However, on September 20, 2017, the State informed LeBlanc that its bid was rejected because it failed to comply with Section 5.1.9 of the instructions to bidders. Specifically, the State claimed LeBlanc failed to submit written evidence of the authority of the person signing the bid as set forth in the instructions. The State thereafter determined Southern Delta was the lowest responsive bidder and awarded the contract for the Project to Southern Delta. LeBlanc filed a petition for injunctive and declaratory relief, seeking to enjoin the State from awarding the contract to Southern Delta, or alternatively, a declaration that any contract entered into by the State and Southern Delta was null and void. LeBlanc's petition alleged that Southern Delta's bid was non-responsive because it violated Section 5.1.9 of the instructions to bidders.

         In particular, LeBlanc asserted that Southern Delta failed to include written evidence proving that the person who signed the bid had the authority to sign and submit the bid on Southern Delta's behalf. Southern Delta's bid was signed by its vice-president, Michael Mayeux. Southern Delta included a "Certification of Authority" signed by its president Daniel Fordice, III, which provided:

Pursuant to the Requirements of L.S.A. R.S. 38:2212, the undersigned does certify that he is the President of [Southern Delta] and that Mike Mayeux, Vice President[,] is duly authorized to submit bids ...

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